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Proposed Bill Would End SeaWorld Orca Shows, Killer Whale Captivity In California

SANTA MONICA ( — A local assemblymember Friday announced legislation seeking to phase out killer whale captivity in California.

Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, was joined by the director of the controversial documentary "Blackfish" Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Marine Mammal Scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, Naomi Rose, Ph.D., and two former SeaWorld orca trainers at an 11:30 a.m. press conference at the Santa Monica Pier.

The bill, AB 2140, named the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, would make it illegal to "hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes."

"There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes.  These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives," Bloom said.  "It is time to end the practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement."

"Blackfish" explored the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was drowned by an orca at SeaWorld Orlando, as well as the overarching abuse the whales endure while being held in captivity. Following Brancheau's death, trainers were banned from being in the water with the whales.

"In their natural habitat orcas are family-oriented, highly adaptable, socially-complex with cultural traditions and trail only humans as the most intelligent creatures on this planet," Bloom said. "However, in captivity, they have shorter lifespans, show increased health problems, live in swimming pool sized habitat that are approximately one ten-thousandth the required size and demonstrate aggressive behavior towards one another and towards humans that has never been documented in the wild.  They simply do not belong in captivity."

After humans, killer whales are thought to be the most socially and ecologically complex species on the planet.

"If we truly want to help orca conservation, we should focus our efforts on restoring habitat in the wild and protecting our oceans," he added.

Bloom chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Transportation. He represents California's 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacifica Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood and West Los Angeles.

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